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Lotus F1 sign Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli are unveiled as Lotus' new drivers
Kovalainen and Trulli have over 250 grands prix experience between them

Lotus F1 have confirmed Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen as their drivers for the 2010 Formula 1 season.

Trulli joins the new Malaysian-backed team from Toyota, while Kovalainen moves after he was left without a seat due to Jenson Button's move to McLaren.

The pair have signed three-year deals, with Malaysian Fairuz Fauzy named as the third driver.

"[The team] shows our seriousness to be a world championship contender," said Lotus team principal Tony Fernandes.

"Trulli will bring us a lot of experience to develop the team, and Heikki is a young driver but has phenomenal experience so I think we have two fantastic drivers with Fairuz as well."

Trulli was without a team after Toyota announced they were pulling out of the sport in November.

But the 35-year-old Italian - who won one grand prix for Renault in 2004 - has worked with Lotus's technical director Mike Gascoyne before, most recently when they were both at Toyota.

We are not setting any big targets, we want to at least be the best of the new teams

Lotus F1 principal Tony Fernandes

But despite his excitement about joining one of the most famous names in Formula 1, Trulli was cautious about overestimating expectations for the forthcoming season.

"We are one of the new teams, so we have to prove ourselves and to gain respect in the paddock," he told the team's official website.

"We have to establish ourselves as the best of the new teams and see what gap we have between us and the rest.

"Only then will we really understand what gains we need to make during the season. The points system has changed to reward the top 10 drivers, so I would like to see us making progress towards the top 10 by Abu Dhabi.

"But we should not underestimate the task in hand. Formula 1 in 2010 is an exciting prospect with brand new teams, established manufacturers fighting back and of course other young teams looking to repeat their 2009 success.

"Everyone will be fighting hard for results, but we still have all our foundations to set, so we have a lot to do."

Like Trulli, Kovalainen has one grand prix victory to his name, won in Hungary for McLaren last year.

The 28-year-old, who was without a drive following world champion Button's move, also warned that Lotus's return "will not be easy and we will have tough times at the beginning".

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He added: "We have to be realistic and keep the focus on developing the team to a state where we can operate like any other current top F1 team."

And Trulli was delighted to have Kovalainen as his new team-mate.

"He has been in Formula 1 for a few years now, so he has matured into a competitive and well-rounded race driver," he said.

"His experiences at other teams will certainly help Lotus F1 Racing as a whole and I am looking forward to working alongside him. He is bringing a different character and driving style to the team which I think will benefit all of us during 2010."

Lotus F1 are one of five new teams in next season's championship and will operate with a budget of about £55m.

Budget airline AirAsia entrepreneur Fernandes said he wants his team, backed by state-owned car company Proton, to be "the best among the new teams" in 2010.

"We are not setting any big targets, we want to at least be the best of the new teams, but I think it shows our seriousness today by announcing two really world-class drivers," Fernandes added at a ceremony in Malaysia's parliament in Kuala Lumpur.



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see also
F1 gossip column
12 Dec 09 |  Formula 1
Button joins Hamilton at McLaren
18 Nov 09 |  Formula 1
Trulli heads shortlist for Lotus
09 Dec 09 |  Formula 1
Lotus F1 team sign first driver
14 Nov 09 |  Formula 1
Lotus boss craves instant success
12 Nov 09 |  Formula 1
Toyota withdraws from Formula 1
04 Nov 09 |  Formula 1
Lotus target February car launch
16 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Lotus F1 name new chief executive
30 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Lotus hope to rival Brawn debut
20 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Lotus aiming to be best of new teams
16 Nov 09 |  Formula 1
Heikki Kovalainen
01 Nov 09 |  Drivers and teams
Jarno Trulli
01 Nov 09 |  Drivers and teams


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